Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Bridge

This week was the last full week of school and our last FCA meeting.  I am looking forward to a summer off more than I ever have before, but I can honestly say this is the first year that I'm not looking forward to letting some of my cherished ones go.  Don't get me wrong- I love all of my students.  Sure, some get on our nerves a little quicker than others, but I still enjoy them.  That being said, there are some students that you have a special connection to.  For me this year, it was a few students that I was able to share Jesus with.  They were students that came in on Monday afternoons after school for a bible study with me.  They were students that I have seen grow in their relationship with Christ and lead others in doing the same.  They are students I wish, with all of my might, could stay in our school and sew with me every single day.  If this is what it feels like to have to let them go, how much harder is it to be a parent?  I can only hope that I will get to feel this ache with my own children one day.

For the last FCA meeting, we prepared a pancake breakfast (note to self- do not make scratch pancakes with 1 part half-n-half just so you can clean out the fridge unless you want cakes that take 10 minutes to cook.  Woof).  I shared a short message with the kids because several had invited friends that don't normally come (most likely for the food) and I wanted them to hear Jesus.  They needed to hear Jesus... not because they are especially unruly, but because we all do.  I used an illustration I learned in college when my husband and I were part of an on-campus ministry group called The Navigators.  Its easy to learn and clearly explains the gospel, so I thought I would share it so you can use it!

Step 1:  God's Love and His Plan
God created us in his own image to be his friend and have a relationship with him, one the allows us to enjoy him and know him.  He created us to experience joy and abundance of life.
  • Jesus said, "...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
  • So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)  He looked at his created and said it was very good and was delighted in it.
  •  Ask:  Since God planned for us to have peace and abundant life right now, why are most people not having this experience?
Step 2: Our Problem:  Separation from God
Even though this was God's plan for us, man chose to rebel against him, both in the garden through The Fall and ever since.  This means that we are separate from God.  The bible tells us that if we do not belong to God, we are his enemies-an enemy to the One who created the universe and holds it for eternity?  Frightening thought for sure. 
  • "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
  • "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27)
  • "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)
Because we are sinful, we deserve death- not just a physical death, but a spiritual one.  This death means that we deserve to spend eternity without God and in eternal punishment:  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  On  your own, there is no way to bridge the gap to God, because the only way to get there is through perfection.  We cannot jump to him by earning our way through good works, religious duties, money, or wisdom.  We don't get a second chance after we die.  What can we do?

Step 3: God's Remedy:  The Cross

Jesus Christ is the only answer to this problem. He died on the cross and rose from the grave, paying the penalty for our sin and bridging the gap between God and people.
  • "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God..." (I Peter 3:18)
  • "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." (I Timothy 2:5)
  • "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
God didn't have a plan that was suddenly taken off track by man.  While it's an attribute of God we will never fully understand on Earth, God knows all things for eternity.  He gives us free will to choose.  Even though he designed us for a certain purpose, we chose not to take it.  We sinned and we fell.  But, before we chose to rebel, he designed the plan of salvation.  Christ wasn't a man born 2000 years ago.  We was and is God:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  (John 1:1-5)

Step 4:  Our Response

Believing means trust and commitment - acknowledging our sinfulness, trusting Christ's forgiveness and letting Him control our life. Eternal, abundant life is a gift for us to receive.
  • "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
  • "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)
  • Ask:  Is there any reason why you shouldn't cross over to God's side and be certain of eternal life?
If you believe in Christ, admit you are a sinner and confess your sins, believe Christ died for you and rose again, and invite Christ to be Lord and Savior over your life, then the Bible says that you can be sure you have eternal life.
  • "...for, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)
  • "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:12-13)
Once you have received Christ, you are reborn into a new family- one you will be a part of for eternity.  You can rest assured that the same God who made you and saved you is the same one who will keep you.

The offer is for everyone.  Just because you know these truths exist does not mean you are saved:  "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."  (James 2:19)  You must trust and place commitment in the only Savior that has the power to stand before God and claim you as holy and blameless because of his blood- Christ Jesus!


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